Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a Public Adjuster?
A: Public Adjuster is an
expert on loss adjustment and the recovery process, who is employed
by the policyholder - not the insurance company. The Public Adjuster
assists you, the insured, with his intimate knowledge of insurance
policies and negotiation techniques, in preparing, filing and
managing the payment of insurance claims regarding property loss. He
works on your behalf.
Q: I have already received a payment for
my claim from the insurance company and I think it's too low. Is it
too late to reopen my file?
A: A Public Adjuster can
re-open your file and start renegotiating with your insurance
company toward a higher settlement. However, once you have been paid
it does become a bit more difficult. This is why it is wise to hire
a public adjuster from the very beginning of the claim.
Q: How is a Public Adjuster compensated?
A: You pay absolutely
nothing out of pocket! A Public Adjusterís compensation is a small
percentage of your insurerís claims payments that are made to you.
The Public Adjuster's fees are more than covered by the larger
settlement he has obtained for you. Remember, if there is no
settlement, there is no fee to you at all!
Q: Why do I need help with the
A: There are several
reasons why you may want to consider obtaining help with your claim:
1) Filing a claim requires a
written, itemized statement of your losses. You may not realize what
the extent of your damage is, and the insurance company is not
obligated to tell you. The burden of proof is on YOUR shoulders. The
Public Adjuster will help you identify everything to which youíre
2) Filing a claim is a
tedious, time-consuming and aggravating process. The Public Adjuster
can take this burden off your shoulders and free you to get your
business or home affairs back on track. During this emotionally
charged time, you just don't have the presence of mind to spend
hours and hours over inventory itemization and to argue with your
insurance company whether something should "just be repaired" rather
Think about it, in a court
case, would you allow the opposing side to hire THEIR attorney to
I don't think so. Then why
would you allow the insurance company to hire THEIR adjuster to
Q: New Legislation in New Jersey
Protects Homeowners from Insurance Companies.
A: Many people are
hesitant to file a valid insurance claim. They fear retribution from
their insurance company such as raised premiums, non-renewal or
cancellation of the policy. Ever heard that you should never file a
claim because it can come back to bite you? But isnít that
counterintuitive? A person buys homeowners insurance to gain piece
of mind but doesnít want to utilize said insurance for fear of
Well, this is a
thing of the past
In 1999 an act was passed in
New Jersey prohibiting any insurer to cancel or non-renew any
insurance policy covering an owner occupied dwelling because of
claims due to weather related damage or third party criminal acts
such as vandalism or theft. See NJSA 17:36-5.20(a). This means that
a homeowner can have total piece of mind filing a valid weather
related claim such as rain damage, frozen pipes causing water
damage, damage due to weight of ice and snow, wind damage to roof
and siding and mold damage caused by any of the above perils.
Similarly, if a property was vandalized or robbed a homeowner need
not be hesitant to file a claim, as it cannot be held against you!
But what about
premium rate hikes?
An email correspondence with
the Office of the Insurance Ombudsman with the NJ Department of
Banking and Insurance revealed the following. ďAs for premium
ramifications, insurers cannot raise an individual's premium for
losses unless they gain approval for a general rate increase, which
would apply to all customers regardless of losses.Ē So that general
fear was totally unfounded even before this legislation! Apparently,
this has been confused with the automobile insurance industry where
premium rate hikes following a claim are the norm. Hopefully, once
homeowners are informed of this legislation, they will once again
utilize their homeowners insurance to receive what they are truly
entitled to and can finally feel secure knowing that when disaster
strikes they will be taken care of.
Q: My roof is leaking should
I report this to my insurance company?
A: No, this is not a
covered loss. The repairing of the roof is a maintenance issue and
is not covered by your insurance policy. The insurance policy only
covers the subsequent damage.
Q: Should I cash my check if
I don't like the claim settlement?
A: Yes, it is ok to cash your
check; Doing so does not prevent you from asking for additional
Q: Should I call the
insurance company before I hire a public adjuster?
A: No, a
public adjuster will help you to decide if it is a covered claim and
if it is worth reporting this claim to your insurance company.
Insurance companies keep records on your calls and will often count
a call as a claim; this may raise your rates even though you never
really wanted a claim to be reported.
Q: Can my insurance company
drop me after a claim?
A: Yes, an insurance company can
basically do as they please. They can raise your premium or drop you
after a claim. The bottom line is your insurance company makes the
rules and decides if you are a profitable customer to them? The
watch phrase here is buyer beware.
Q: Am I required to use the
insurance company's contractor?
A: No, they will often have a
preferred contractor program to offer you their contractor to do
emergency service or repairs, but they will NOT warranty or
guarantee their work. Ask their contractor for references in the
same way you would hire your own independent contractor. Remember,
these contractors get their work assignments from the insurance
company so, ask yourself, who do they really work for?
Q: My contractor said he
will negotiate my claim?
A: The only people authorized in
the state of New Jersey to negotiate and settle an insurance claim are:
Q: The adjuster came and took pictures and
told me it is ok to throw everything away, but the adjuster left
things out of my estimate?
A: It is up to you to document your
loss. Many of these "storm adjusters" are only here temporarily
leaving you to prove your damages after they have skipped town. If
they send out another adjuster, or if a public adjuster needs to
have photographs of the damaged items, and you cannot provide them,
the insurance company will not consider any additional payment. They
are under no obligation to keep your pictures or give you a copy.
You must prove your own loss.
Q: The insurance company said the loss
is not covered? Can I still hire a public adjuster?
A: Yes, but a public adjuster will only take on assignments if
they feel it should be covered? That is why it is better to meet
with a public adjuster first to help guide you through the claim
process. Once your loss is denied you may need to hire an attorney.
Q: I have a water leak but I
don't know where it is coming from?
A: You have an obligation to
stop any leak and mitigate any damage under your insurance policy.
The insurance can deny your claim for not stopping the leak in a
timely manner. Your claim can not go forward until you know the
cause of loss, and, the estimate of damages cannot be made until
after your repairs are completed.
Q: The insurance company is
charging more then one deductible for my claim?
A: Each covered
cause of loss is a separate deductible. If a pipe leaks today, and
then the pipe leaks tomorrow, they can charge you with two
deductibles, as it is two separate occurrences.
Q: I want to report my claim
and see what they pay me before I hire a public adjuster?
Most public adjusters will charge more for a claim once submitted as
it is now more work to undo problems that existed before they
entered the case